The best laid plans of mice and men…
…how does that saying end again?
It’s got something to do with things not going to plan, right? Well, as a business owner or sole-trader, you probably know full well: when things don’t go to plan, getting yourself back on track can end up taking a lot longer than necessary.
Like explaining that little saying up there.
Either way, when it comes to your business and your tax investigation, it can get a little frustrating when you’re left without answers. It can get even more frustrating when your up late worrying about a lack of those answers, too. Because fretting about the length of a tax investigation? It can lead you into a bit of a spiral.
Here’s the type of thing our clients have said in the past:
‘Well, what if it takes so long that it takes over my business AND my personal life?’
‘What if it takes so long that it starts to affect my income, too?’
Like we’ve told our clients before and like we’ll tell others in the future: fear not. Because today, we’re going to put your mind at ease, breaking down how long your tax investigation is likely to take – from a basic enquiry all the way through to a full-blown investigation.
But first and foremost? If you’re still struggling with understanding what an HMRC tax investigation really means for you and your business? Check out our previous articles – we’ve got you covered.
Now, without further ado.
HMRC Investigations: ‘Just how long is this going to take?!’
‘How long is a piece of string?’
It’s this kind of answer you don’t want to hear, right? Still, when it comes down to a tax investigation, and whilst timescales do vary according to what type of enquiry your facing, it’s hardly helpful, is it? But even so, that’s still what we see and hear from others who should be in the know, whether its accountants, online forums, or even certain HMRC officers themselves.
Still, we can do a little better, can’t we?
Now, your case? Just like your self-assessment returns, your investigation is going to be unique from any other business owner. But whether you’re facing a full-blown investigation or something far less serious, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for at least a few months of work.
And that’s at the lower end of the scale, we’re afraid.
At the other end? Your tax investigation could take up to a year and half.
But let’s break that down, shall we?
What’s the average time of a tax investigation?
This is where we can start to get a little more specific. Because if you’re only dealing with one aspect of a tax enquiry — a small case for a small business or sole trader?
On average, the investigation can last anywhere between 3 – 6 months.
Then again, if an investigation has been launched into every aspect of your tax returns, as well as your PAYE for your employees?
That timeframe understandably stretches. Sometimes as long as 18 months.
Now, don’t panic. Because whether you’re in the first category or in the second, the chances are? We’ve covered the topic of what you need to do next in our FAQ section.
But if you need more personal advice on how long this process is going to take? You know what to do. Get in touch.
So what can I take away from this if I’m facing a tax investigation?
Like it or not, processes like an HMRC tax enquiry take time. At least a few months, in the very best of cases. So whether you’re facing a small and specialist investigation or something a little larger? As we always say, it pays to be prepared.
And if we could give you one piece of parting advice? Get reading our FAQs and articles. Ask us for advice.
And ultimately, don’t stress. Because we can give you peace of mind.
The Tax Haven